House Republicans tout infrastructure funding they voted against

Democrats have been quick to criticize it as "voting no and taking the dough."

January 24, 2022, 2:50 PM

In November, Rep. Rob Wittman, R-Va., was one of 205 House Republicans to vote against the bipartisan, $1.5 trillion infrastructure bill, calling it irresponsible and the "Green New Deal in disguise."

On Friday, he took to Twitter to tout funding from the bill he voted against -- highlighting a $70 million expansion of the Port of Virginia in Norfolk -- one of the busiest and deepest ports in the United States.

Rep. Rob Wittman speaks during the House GOP news conference following the House Republican Conference caucus meeting in the Capitol, Nov. 2, 2021.
Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images, FILE

On Monday, a spokesperson for Wittman told ABC News the congressman has spent more than a decade working on supporting the Port of Virginia, and that the level of funding the port received through the infrastructure bill was a result of that prior work -- specifically the "new start" designation in 2021 from the Army Corps of Engineers.

Wittman deleted his tweet because he did not want to give the impression that he voted for the bill, his office said.

"While Congressman Wittman voted against the infrastructure bill, he's ecstatic that the Port of Virginia received the funding that he worked so hard over the years to secure," a spokesperson told ABC News.

Wittman is the latest member of a growing group of Republicans celebrating new initiatives they originally opposed on the floor.

Shortly after voting against the measure last fall, Rep. Gary Palmer, R-Ala., celebrated its hundreds of millions in funding for a stalled highway project in Birmingham.

Last week, Rep. Kay Granger, R-Texas, touted new funding for a flood control project from the package, which she opposed last year, decrying it at the time as a "so-called infrastructure bill."

Rep. Ashley Hinson, R-Iowa, a freshman lawmaker who also voted against the infrastructure bill, celebrating new "game-changing" funding to upgrade locks along the Upper Mississippi River.

Thirteen House Republicans and 19 Senate Republicans -- including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. -- voted with Democrats to approve the package, with many working with Democrats and the Biden White House on the details and legislative language.

"When I voted for the bipartisan infrastructure bill, I was voting for exactly this type of federal support for critical infrastructure that Iowans depend on," Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said in a statement about the new lock and dam funding that Hinson also recognized.

Democrats have been quick to call out Republicans who voted against the infrastructure deal and recent COVID-19 relief package while praising elements of the legislation, criticizing them for "voting no and taking the dough."

"When these Republicans had the chance to actually do something good for their constituents, they refused," Nebeyatt Betre, a spokesperson for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said in a statement. "We're not going to let them get away with this blatant attempt to rewrite history."

Republicans have pushed back on the characterizations of their votes, arguing that they had issues with Democrats' larger agenda that included the bipartisan package, called the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

"Congresswoman Hinson opposed the infrastructure package because it was tied to trillions of other spending in the House. Since the bill was signed into law, this money was going to be spent regardless. If there's federal money on the table she is, of course, going to do everything she can to make sure it is reinvested in Iowa," a spokesperson for Hinson told ABC News.

PHOTO: Shown is the Martin Luther King Jr. Bridge, bottom, that is closed to motor vehicle traffic because of repair needs, in Philadelphia, Jan. 14, 2022.
Shown is the Martin Luther King Jr. Bridge, bottom, that is closed to motor vehicle traffic because of repair needs, in Philadelphia, Jan. 14, 2022. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg was in the city promoting the new infrastructure law and a bridge repair funding program that could benefit the MLK span.
Matt Rourke/AP

A spokesperson for Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., the No. 2 House Republican who touted a $1 billion investment in flood protection and hurricane repairs in his home state funded by the package he opposed, told ABC News that the GOP whip has "consistently supported these flood protection projects" and approved earlier legislation to pave the way for them.

"What he did not support is tying necessary infrastructure needs to unrelated, Green New Deal policies Democrats put in their $1.2 trillion dollar bill -- very little of which was dedicated to traditional infrastructure -- that would cripple Louisiana's energy economy and hurt workers and families in his state," the spokesperson said.

"You can see why the Obama administration insisted on signage" for projects funded by the American Recovery Act, Jeff Davis, a senior fellow with the Eno Center for Transportation, told ABC News.

"People will be claiming these things for years, and it's going to be hard to tell five years from now which projects were funded mostly or entirely with IIJA money or money out of the annual budget," he said.

Editor's Note: This story has been updated to incorporate comments from Rep. Rob Wittman's office. ABC News sought comment on Friday from Wittman's former spokesperson, who is no longer with the office.

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